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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies
Ephesians 2



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Verse 1

And you

Taking up the closing thought of the preceding chapter, the magnitude of God's power toward believers as exhibited in Christ's resurrection. He now shows that the same power is applied to his readers. Hence the connection is: “When He raised Him from the dead, etc., and you did He quicken, even as He quickened Christ.” The structure of the passage is broken. Paul having prominently in mind the thought God quickened you as He did Christ, begins with you also. Then the connection is interrupted by Ephesians 2:2, Ephesians 2:3, which describe their previous condition. Then Ephesians 2:1is taken up in Ephesians 2:4, by but God, God introducing a new sentence.

Who were dead ( ὄντας νεκροὺς )

Better, Rev., when ye were dead, thus giving the sense of the continued state in the past expressed by the participle being.

Trespasses - sins ( παραπτώμασιν - ἁμαρτίαις )

See on Matthew 1:21; see on Matthew 6:14. Trespasses, special acts. Sins, all forms and phases of sin: more general.

Verse 2

Course ( αἰῶνα )

Lit., age. See on John 1:9.

Power ( ἐξουσίας )

Collective, the whole empire of evil spirits.

The air

According to Paul's usage, in the simple physical sense. See Acts 22:23; 1 Corinthians 9:26; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Revelation 16:17. The air is regarded as the region of the demons' might.

The spirit

See on 1 Corinthians 2:12. The term designates the power over which Satan rules, on the side of its operation in men's hearts.


With an implied reference to its former working in his readers. Compare once, Ephesians 2:3

Children of disobedience ( υἱοῖς τῆς ἀπειθείας )

Compare Ephesians 5:6. A Hebraistic expression. Compare son of perdition, John 17:12; children of obedience, 1 Peter 1:14; children of cursing, 2 Peter 2:14. Rev., correctly, sons of disobedience: belonging to disobedience as sons to a parent.

Verse 3

Had our conversation ( ἀνεστράφημεν )

See on the kindred noun conversation, 1 Peter 1:15. Rev., more simply, lived.

Fulfilling ( ποιοῦντες )

Rev., doing. The verb implies carrying out or accomplishing, so that the A.V. is more nearly correct. See on Romans 7:15; see on John 3:21.

Desires ( θελήματα )

Lit., willings. See on Colossians 3:12.

Mind ( διανοιῶν )

More strictly, thoughts. See on Mark 12:30; see on Luke 1:51.

By nature children of wrath

See on Ephesians 2:2. Children ( τέκνα ) emphasizes the connection by birth; see on John 1:12. Wrath ( ὀργῆς ) is God's holy hatred of sin; His essential, necessary antagonism to everything evil, Romans 1:18. By nature ( φύσει ) accords with children, implying what; is innate. That man is born with a sinful nature, and that God and sin are essentially antagonistic, are conceded on all hands: but that unconscious human beings come into the world under the blaze of God's indignation, hardly consists with Christ's assertion that to little children belongs the kingdom of heaven. It is true that there is a birth-principle of evil, which, if suffered to develop, will bring upon itself the wrath of God. Whether Paul means more than this I do not know.

Others ( οἱ λοιποί )

Rev., correctly, the rest.

Verse 4

But God

Resuming Ephesians 2:1.

For His great love ( διά )

For the sake of, in order to satisfy His love.

Quickened us together

Spiritually. Compare Colossians 2:13; Romans 6:11-14; Romans 8:10, Romans 8:11“What God wrought in Christ He wrought, ipso facto, in all who are united with Him” (Ellicott).

Verse 6

Raised us up

Compare Romans 6:5.

Made us sit together ( συνεκάθισεν )

Compare set Him, Ephesians 1:20. Together is ambiguous. Render with Him, as Rev. “Even now we sit there in Him, and shall sit with Him in the end” (Andrews, cited by Ellicott). Compare Romans 8:30; Revelation 3:21. Meyer renders hath given us joint seat.

In Christ Jesus

Connect with raised up, made us sit, and in heavenly places. Resurrection, enthronement, heaven, all are in Christ.

Verse 7

The ages to come ( τοῖς αἰῶσιν τοῖς ἐπερχομένοις )

Lit., the ages, those which are coming on. Which are successively arriving until Christ's second coming.

He might show ( ἐνδείξηται )

The middle voice denotes for His own glory. See on Colossians 1:6.

In kindness ( ἐν χρηστότητι )

See on easy, Matthew 11:30. The grace of God is to be displayed in His actual benefits.

Verse 8

For by grace, etc.

This may truly be called exceeding riches of grace, for ye are saved by grace. Grace has the article, the grace of God, in Ephesians 2:5, Ephesians 2:7.

And that

Not faith, but the salvation.

Of God

Emphatic. Of God is it the gift.

Verse 10

For we are His workmanship

A reason why no man should glory. If we are God's workmanship, our salvation cannot be of ourselves. His is emphatic. His workmanship are we.

Created ( κτισθέντες )

See on John 1:3. The verb originally means to make habitable, to people. Hence to found. God is called κτίστης creator 1 Peter 4:19, and ὁ κτίσας hethat created, Romans 1:25. Compare Revelation 4:11. Κτίσις is used of the whole sum of created things, Mark 10:6; Romans 8:22.

Afore prepared ( προητοίμασεν )

Rev, more correctly, prepared. Made ready beforehand. God prearranged a sphere of moral action for us to walk in. Not only are works the necessary outcome of faith, but the character and direction of the works are made ready by God.

That we should walk

In order that; to the end that.

Verse 11

Uncircumcision - circumcision

Abstract for concrete terms, the uncircumcised and circumcised.

Which is called

Notice the irony, giving back the called of the circumcised.

Verse 12

Being aliens ( ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι )

Rev., better, giving the force of the verb, alienated. As they had once been otherwise. Paul speaks ideally of a spiritual commonwealth in which Jew and Gentile were together at peace with God, and of which the commonwealth of Israel is a type.


Selecting the most honorable title to describe the Jew. See on Acts 3:12. The reference is to the spiritual rather than to the national distinction. In being separated from Christ, they were separated from that commonwealth in which, according to the promise, Christ would have been to them, as to the faithful Israelites, the object of their faith and the ground of their salvation.


The several renewals of God's covenant with the patriarchs.

Of promise ( τῆς ἐπαγγελίας )

Better, the promise. The messianic promise, which was the basis of all the covenants.

Without God ( ἄθεοι )

God-forsaken. It might also mean godless or impious. The gentile gods were no gods.

Verse 13

Now in Christ Jesus

Now, in contrast with at that time. In Christ Jesus, in contrast with alienated from, etc. Jesus is added because the Christ who was the subject of promise, the Messiah, has come into the world under that personal name. The phrase includes the promised Messiah and the actual Savior.

Verse 14

Our peace ( ἡ εἰρήνη ἡμῶν )

Christ is similarly described in abstract terms in 1 Corinthians 1:30; wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption. So Colossians 1:27, hope of glory. Christ is thus not merely our peace-maker, but our very peace itself.

Both ( τὰ ἀμφότερα )

Lit., the both. The neuter gender shows that Jews and Gentiles are conceived by the writer merely as two facts. The masculine is used in Ephesians 2:15, Ephesians 2:16.

Hath broken down ( λύσας )

Lit, loosened or dissolved. Rev., giving the force of the aorist tense, brake down. The participle has an explanatory force, in that He brake down.

The middle-wall of partition ( τὸ μεσότοιχον τοῦ φραγμοῦ )

Lit., the middle wall of the fence or hedge. The wall which pertained to the fence; the fact of separation being emphasized in wall, and the instrument of separation in fence. The hedge was the whole Mosaic economy which separated Jew from Gentile. Some suppose a reference to the stone screen which bounded the court of the Gentiles in the temple.

Verse 15

Having abolished in His flesh the enmity ( τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ καταργήσας )

The enmity immediately follows the middle wall of partition, and should be rendered in apposition with and as defining it, and as dependent on brake down, not on abolished: the middle wall which was the enmity. It is used abstractly, as peace in Ephesians 2:14. The enmity was the result and working of the law regarded as a separative system; as it separated Jew from Gentile, and both from God. See Romans 3:20; Romans 4:15; Romans 5:20; Romans 7:7-11. For abolished, see on cumbereth, Luke 13:7, and make without effect, see on Romans 3:3.

The law of commandments contained in ordinances ( τὸν νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασιν )

The law, etc., depends in construction on having abolished, and is not in apposition with the enmity, as A.V. The middle wall of partition, the enmity, was dissolved by the abolition of the law of commandments. Construe in His flesh with having abolished. Law is general, and its contents are defined by commandments, special injunctions, which injunctions in turn were formulated in definite decrees. Render the entire passage: brake down the middle-wall of partition, even the enmity, by abolishing in His flesh the law of commandments contained in ordinances.

For to make ( ἵνα κτίσῃ )

Rev., that He might create. See on created, Ephesians 2:10. The work was to be a new creation on a new foundation.

In Himself

As the medium of reconciliation.

Of the twain one new man ( τοὺς δύο εἰς ἕνα καινὸν ἄνθρωπον ).

The Greek is livelier: make the two into one new man. Καινὸν newemphasizes the new quality; not newness in point of time. See on Matthew 26:29.

Verse 16

Might reconcile ( ἀποκαταλλάξῃ )

Only here and Colossians 1:20, Colossians 1:21. See on Colossians 1:20. The new man precedes the reconciling in Paul's statement, though, as a fact, the order is the reverse. The verb contains a hint of restoration to a primal unity. See on Ephesians 2:12.

Thereby ( ἐν αὐτῷ )

Or upon it - the cross.

Verse 17

You which were afar off


Them that were nigh

Jews. See on Romans 3:30. As children of the messianic covenant. See on Ephesians 2:12. Compare Isaiah 57:9, where the Septuagint reads, peace upon peace to those who are far and to those who are near.

Verse 18

Access ( προσαγωγὴν )

See on Romans 5:2. Notice the three persons of the Godhead: through Him (Christ); one Spirit, the Father.

Verse 19

Foreigners ( πάροικοι )

See on Luke 24:18. Rev., better, sojourners. Without rights of citizenship.

Verse 20

Of the apostles and prophets

The foundation laid by them. Prophets are New-Testament prophets. See Ephesians 3:5; Ephesians 4:11. See on 1 Corinthians 12:10.

Chief corner-stone ( ἀκρογωνίαου )

Only here and 1 Peter 2:6.

Verse 21

All the building ( πᾶσα οικοδομὴ )

Lit., every building. Rev., each several building. But the reference is evidently to one building, and the rendering of A.V. should be retained though the article is wanting.

Fitly framed together ( συναρμολογουμένη )

The present participle indicates the framing as in progress.

Temple ( ναὸν )

Sanctuary. See on Matthew 4:5. The more sacred portion of the structure is chosen for the figure.

Verse 22

Are builded together ( συνοικοδομεῖσθε )

As component parts of the one building. The reference is to individual Christians, not to communities.

Habitation ( κατοικητήριον )

Answering to temple. Only here and Revelation 18:2. Indicating a permanent dwelling. See on dwell, Luke 11:26; see on Acts 2:5; see on Mark 5:3. In marked contrast with sojourners, Ephesians 2:19.

Through the Spirit ( ἐν )

Better, as Rev., in. In the fellowship of the indwelling Spirit.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Ephesians 2:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

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Friday, December 4th, 2020
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